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?0                             THE GAY GENIUS

washing his face or combing his hair. Han Chi noted his appearance
and, thinking that he had indulged himself all night with women,
gave him a piece of advice.

"Young man," he said, "I should advise you to make the best use of
the years of your youth and apply yourself to studies."

Wang Anshih stood there without giving any explanation, and on
departing told his friends that Han Chi did not appreciate him. Later,
as Wang's fame as a scholar steadily grew, Han changed his opinion
of him and accepted him as a follower, which Wang rather resented.
As it happened, the year Wang accepted a high office at the capital
was the year in which Han Chi quitted his office as prime minister.
Wang also diligently kept a diary, running to seventy volumes, and in
this diary he, of ten put in the remark that "there is nothing to Han
except his fine looks'*.

But there is more to this strange man than his unkempt appearance.
For about two decades before his rise to power, what made him most
talked about was his repeated refusal to accept promotion to an office
at the court. It is hard to believe that he did this for the sole purpose
of earning fame, for from his twenty-first year, when he passed the
examinations, to his forty-sixth, when he came into power—that is,
during the most active years of his manhood, a period of twenty-five
years—he steadily declined appointments and always preferred to serve
as a minor magistrate in the outlying provinces. It was during the
reign of Jentsung, a very good period when all distinguished talents
who could do so gathered at the court. The more Wang Anshih re-
fused an offer of a good post, the more his fame grew. Finally it got
to the point where all the officials at the court were dying to have a
look at this man. For besides distinguishing himself by his literary
compositions, he had proved himself an able administrator as a magis-
trate. He had built dams, reformed schools, established loans for the
farmers, and put into practice some of his new social ideas. It was a
good administrative record and the people liked him. Enticements
for him to come to the capital were without avail, and it was not until
he was offered a job on the board of finance that he was attracted to
the capital, in 1060. It is clear that this man was primarily interested
in economics and finance and felt he could do most for the country
along this line. Then his mother died and he had to retire; but even
after the mourning period was over, when he was called to the court
again, he refused the offer and remained away at Nanking.

This period of his self-imposed obscurity is difficult to understand,
for the man certainly believed that he had great things to do for the
country when the time came, and it would have been logical for him
-to have built up his official career during the period of his manhood.
Perhaps the competition of great scholars at the capital was too great